Premiere Episode of 'Downton Abbey' Season Three Quadruples Average PBS Primetime Rating

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January 7th, 2013

via press release:

Premiere Episode of “Downton Abbey, Season 3” on MASTERPIECE CLASSIC Quadruples Average PBS Primetime Rating

– 7.9 Million Viewers Tuned In For Premiere –

ARLINGTON, VA; January 7, 2013 – PBS and WGBH announced today that the premiere of MASTERPIECE CLASSIC “Downton Abbey, Season 3” captivated viewers nationwide, building on the love affair with the series that started two years ago. An average audience of 7.9 million viewers tuned in for Sunday’s premiere. (Nielsen Fast National data, 5.1 household rating.) The third season premiere of the Emmy® and Golden Globe® Award-winning series, a Carnival/MASTERPIECE co-production, quadrupled the average PBS primetime rating, and exceeded the average rating of the second season premiere of “Downton Abbey” by 96 percent (based on metered market averages).

Between 9:00-11:00 p.m., PBS was the second-most watched broadcast network on Sunday. Highest local-market ratings were at member stations KCTS-Seattle (9.6 rating, 17 share), WGBH-Boston (8.8/14), KLRU-Austin (8.1/13) and WNET-New York (8.0/12).

“Downton Abbey’ continues to enthrall audiences nationwide, and this season is especially riveting with the addition of Shirley MacLaine to the cast and the lively interaction between her and Maggie Smith,” said PBS president and CEO Paula Kerger. “I’m so pleased that audiences have returned to ‘Downton Abbey’ on their local stations to continue to enjoy some of the best drama on television.”

“The well-loved characters that made Season 2 the most-watched series in MASTERPIECE history continue to delight us,” said MASTERPIECE executive producer Rebecca Eaton. “I’m thrilled to see so many viewers return to the Crawley family’s delicious drama and intrigue.”

The new season, which rejoins the story as the Great War is over and the long-awaited engagement of Lady Mary and Matthew is on, will be available on the PBS Video Portal after each national broadcast for a limited time (watch the season premiere here). All three seasons can be purchased on, iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Xbox, Google Play, and Vudu.

Beginning Wednesday, December 26, “Downton” fans were given the opportunity to watch a sneak preview of the opening minutes of Season 3 on the PBS and MASTERPIECE Facebook pages. Available for only two weeks, the preview apps earned more than 150,000 fan views. The frenzy on Facebook grew on January 6, with more than 42,500 user “likes” and 5,000 shares on a single post asking if they were excited about the premiere.

Fans continue to engage with the show and each other on Twitter, as PBS and MASTERPIECE insiders — as well as moderators from Austenprose (@austenprose), The Daily Beast (@televisionary), Tom and Lorenzo (@tomandlorenzo) and Vulture (@vulture) — host live discussions during each broadcast. According to SocialGuide Intelligence, the conversation for Downton Abbey garnered nearly 100,000 tweets during the premiere evening. In addition, since January 1, there have been more than 20,500 individual check-ins to “Downton Abbey” using the GetGlue entertainment social network, with a social media reach of more than 8.5 million people.

To engage viewers in the series’ premiere, more than 110 local PBS stations hosted premiere screenings in December and January, collectively drawing more than 30,000 fans. Stations from New Hampshire to Hawaii created events ranging from high teas to history lectures to costume contests.

Since the premiere of “Downton Abbey, Season 1” on January 9, 2011, the critically acclaimed series has gained popularity across a diverse audience and has been honored with nine Primetime Emmy®Awards, including Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (Dame Maggie Smith). It has also garnered a Golden Globe® Award for Best Miniseries, a PGA (Producers’ Guild of America) Award and a TCA (Television Critics Association) Award.

“Downton Abbey” is a Carnival/Masterpiece Co-Production.

MASTERPIECE is presented on PBS by WGBH Boston. Rebecca Eaton is Executive Producer for MASTERPIECE. Funding for the series is provided by Viking River Cruises and Ralph Lauren Corporation with additional support from public television viewers and contributors to The MASTERPIECE Trust, created to help ensure the series’ future.

About PBS
PBS, with its nearly 360 member stations, offers all Americans the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and online content. Each month, PBS reaches nearly 123 million people through television and more than 21 million people online, inviting them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; to hear diverse viewpoints; and to take front row seats to world-class drama and performances. PBS’ broad array of programs has been consistently honored by the industry’s most coveted award competitions. Teachers of children from pre-K through 12th grade turn to PBS for digital content and services that help bring classroom lessons to life. PBS’ premier children’s TV programming and its website,, are parents’ and teachers’ most trusted partners in inspiring and nurturing curiosity and love of learning in children. More information about PBS is available at, one of the leading dot-org websites on the Internet, or by following PBS on Twitter, Facebook or through our apps for mobile devices. Specific program information and updates for press are available at or by following PBS Pressroom on Twitter.

About WGBH
WGBH Boston is America’s preeminent public broadcaster and the largest producer of PBS content for TV and the Web, including Masterpiece, Antiques Roadshow, Frontline, Nova, American Experience, Arthur, Curious George, and more than a dozen other prime-time, lifestyle, and children’s series. WGBH also is a leader in educational multimedia, including PBS LearningMedia, and a pioneer in technologies and services that make media accessible to the 36 million Americans who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind, or visually impaired. WGBH has been recognized with hundreds of honors: Emmys, Peabodys, duPont-Columbia Awards…even two Oscars. Find more information at

  • Rod

    Yay!! Amazing show.

  • Melissa

    Is PBS a broadcast network? If so, why isn’t it included in the daily ratings and everything else on the site?

  • AA

    Downton Abbey beat everything on the major networks execpt The Good Wife!

  • gerry

    BAM! no wonder revenge placed so low last night. everyone was watching this! i’ll be catching the encore, that’s for sure!

  • silvit


    Because there isn’t any commercial on PBS, hence Nielsen doesn’t give a damn about it.

  • David Howell

    Those are big numbers, actually beating NBC, FOX, and ABC in the demo. I wonder how the demographics break down – decidedly old, I’d imagine, but I do know some younger Downton fans on both sides of the Atlantic.

    (Sadly, here in the UK we rarely if ever see demo numbers :( )

  • KarenM

    New viewer to this show and I’m addicted now! Too bad I missed the first two seasons!

  • Ultima

    Is PBS a broadcast network? If so, why isn’t it included in the daily ratings and everything else on the site?

    Yes, PBS is a broadcast network. They request that their ratings not be published, so the only time you ever see them is via an occasional press release (like this one).

  • Bjm

    Hurray for Downton Abbey!

  • Joe

    Is there ever a way to get the demo for Downton Abbey?

  • UKTVFan

    Would someone please remove the post by Freddy IMMEDIATELY as it contains a MAJOR SPOILER for the S3 Christmas special (which PBS is airing the week after episode 3-8 in February).

  • CenterGravity

    @silvit “Because there isn’t any commercial on PBS, hence Nielsen doesn’t give a damn about it.”

    Hmm, I see commercials on PBS all the time before and after the shows I watch. Though, I guess they call them “support” rather than advertising.

  • Laurence Glavin

    I’m assuming that ratings ARE TAKEN, just not ordinarily distributed to the press or sites like tvbythenumbers. I live near Boston, and PBS station WGBH-TV has a weekly roundup of news about the media on Friday nights. The host frequently brings up the ratings “success” or otherwise when discuss9ing PBS shows. One other thing that’s different about PBS broadcast stations: they emulate cable by repeating particular shows a number of times right after the initial broadcast. The WGBH organization will run “Downton Abbey” again tomorrow on its secondary channel WGBX-TV for example. PBS stations that operate one main channel may air it again in the overnight, and of course many viewers will watch it on DVR delay.

  • Ultima

    Because there isn’t any commercial on PBS, hence Nielsen doesn’t give a damn about it.

    Then how do you explain the ratings we see for HBO shows?

    Nielsen does care about PBS, because PBS pays them to.

  • Anon

    Yeah, they jam all the commercials at the end of the shows and call them support. Advertising is also a lot lower key on PBS than it is on commercial networks; it’s usually pretty bland and sedate.

  • Nick

    That’s one reason why ratings were so low for Revenge, cause they both have a big target audience: women

  • JoJo

    Wow..those are great numbers.

  • Tessa

    I predict it’ll fall soon as people realize what a mess this season is.

  • KarenM

    @Tessa, it’ll fall when network TV attempts to make better shows. People are sick of the network crap. That’s why shows like Downton and those on cable draw way higher numbers.

  • DW

    when does the governor show up?. oops wrong show. :)

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